New NASA Space Launch System The megarocket (SLS) and terrestrial infrastructure associated with the original cost estimates have risen to the point where the agency is required to notify Congress of an inflated budget.
Cathy Lauders, the recently appointed leader of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts, announced the new cost estimates in a blog post Published August 27.
“The new base cost of developing an SLS is $ 9.1 billion, and commitment to primary ground systems capacity to support [rocket’s first] The mission is now worth $ 2.4 billion, “wrote Lauders, without explaining what the previous major costs were. And Congress had previously approved $ 7 billion Commitment to developing SLS, according to 2019 financial figures.
SLS’s first launch is slated to be Artemis 1, a test flight to the An unmanned spacecraft will be sent around the moon in November 2021 In preparation for the moon landing in 2024. Lueders wrote that the Artemis 1 mission is still on the right track so far, although the agency is cautious about the potential impact of Coronavirus pandemic This resulted in physical distancing and, in some cases, a shortage of parts in the space industry.
“Successful test shooting in Green Run will enable us to better predict the target launch date for the mission,” she wrote. It also indicated that future missile development should proceed more smoothly, and that Orion spacecraft To carry astronauts, they are still on their way to a test mission to lunar orbit in November 2023.
“We are well positioned for future missions, and are seeing remarkable improvement in construction rates, quality work and efficiencies in all areas,” she wrote. “Going forward, we aim to continue to reduce production costs for the world’s most capable launch system as we face new challenges for our lunar exploration program.”
Back in April, According to Space News, The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report evaluating major NASA programs puts the estimated development cost of the SLS at $ 8.75 billion and the ground infrastructure, called Exploration Ground Systems (EGS), at $ 2.33 billion. (Both numbers are estimates from January, and were published only in April.) The new numbers represent slight increases over the GAO’s estimate.
But NASA will likely compare the new numbers to its 2014 baseline estimates for the SLS and EKG programs. According to Space News, the SLS was expected to cost $ 7.02 billion and $ 1.84 billion; The new estimates represent an increase of nearly 30% over the 2014 figures.
in a Report published in MarchThe Office of the Inspector General at NASA has warned that the SLS program may have crossed the threshold of the 30% budget increase rate it mandates to notify Congress. The report added that NASA had not revised its baseline cost estimate at the time to account for removing about $ 1 billion in costs related to SLS solid rocket boosters and RS-25 engines.
According to Space News, Congress is unlikely to make major changes to the SLS or EGS programs due to the notification. While the Senate has not yet addressed House Benefits Bill Dealing with SLS and EGS, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R from Ala), has called for SLS in the past. Moreover, the House of Representatives has allocated more money to SLS and EGS than the administration has requested, with $ 343 million more and $ 75 million, respectively.
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